The Buzz: The Big Short is one of this year's films with everyone in it: the cast includes Ryan Gosling, Steven Carrell, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, and Karen Gillan. It's also a slightly more serious offering from director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Antman, The Other Guys), adapting the best-selling non fiction book by Michael Lewis. The novel (and therefore, the film) documents how the housing market was built up on a foundation of bad loans, and what happened when the bubble finally burst.
What's Great About the Movie: The Big Short takes an incredibly novel approach to the material, treating the story basically like a straight-forward documentary, but with the use of actors and a delving into a few of the key players' personal backstories. The film is at its best when it does the unexpected, frequently breaking the fourth wall to address how dry the topic of the financial industry it can be, and using window dressing (e.g. Margot Robby in a bathtub is here to explain this boring concept) or real-life examples (a game of blackjack) to tackle the subject matter.
What's Not-So-great About the Movie: There are a LOT of characters in The Big Short, some of them more relevant than others. But none of the parts are really a showcase for the actors, and sometimes it feels like the writers bent over backwards to deliver some backstory and flesh the characters out to address that. The problem is, this isn't a movie about any of the characters - it's basically a dramatic retelling, a documentary of a fairly complex subject approached with a humorous twist - so adding personal story beats to beef up the roles feels like an unnecessary misstep, complicating an already complex plot.
Final Verdict: The Big Short is an amusing film and takes a unique approach to telling the story, though I suspect the book would probably be a more interesting way to delve into the material, and the stuffed cast doesn't really have enough to do here. Worth a watch for the educational topic alone, but could easily wait for home viewing.